Tuesday 29 August 2023


If there is one thing we at Desert Psychlist love in our music it is a touch of off-centred quirkiness, music that is governed by all the usual rules but does not always strictly adhere to them. This off-piste approach is something we hear in the music of  Ohio's Sun Dweller, a trio who utilize all the usual musical tools we associate with underground music of a stoner/desert/hard rock persuasion but have a sound unlike anyone else in the genre. Sun Dweller first appeared on Desert Psychlist's radar via their first album "The Big Sleep" a mightily impressive debut that highlighted a blend of stoner fuzz, bluesy swagger and grungy doom dynamics the like of which we had never heard before. The band, Seth Nulph (guitar/vocals); John Thompson (bass) and Ron Marsh (drums), return this year with a new album "High Ride" and it is just as off-centred, just as quirky and just as jaw-droppingly good, if not better, than the debut that proceeded it.

The unorthodox nature of Sun Dweller's musical attack is no more evident than on opening number "Self Medicate" a song that finds Nulph part singing, part speaking over a backdrop of gently picked guitar arpeggios and echoed vocal overdubs, the resulting combination giving the song a hazy Americana feel. Title track "High Ride" follows and finds Sun Dweller jamming a chugging proto-metallic groove spliced with some nice droning textures over which Nulph delivers his highly distinctive vocals, his voice big powerful and edged with a dark grittiness. Next track the stoner-ish "A New Peak" sees bassist Thompson and drummer Marsh laying down a solid bedrock of growling low end and busy rhythm for Nulph to decorate with choppy power chords, searing solos and, of course, those big vocals. "Philophobia" channels a little UFO/Thin Lizzy in its sonic make-up but then confuses things by going all down tuned and doomic in its final quarter while "Again" finds things getting a little torch-like and bluesy but in a way only this band could pull off. Sun Dweller take a breather from original material for the albums next song and jump headlong into a cover of Pink Floyd's "Eclipse" and although only an abridged version they still manage to make a pretty good fist of it. "No One Here" ramps up the quirkiness quota by jumping from its initial, in your face, stoner rock groove into a brief rock'n'roll flavoured section only to then return to planet stoner for its finale. Final track "Cincinnati Weed Wagon" utilizes all of Sun Dweller's various influences and musical inspirations to build a song that teeters on the edge of the doom pool but, due to the idiosyncratic nature of this bands music, never dives fully in yet still manages to sound deliciously dank and dark.

"High Ride" is not an album for those who like their stoner and hard rock straight-forward and basic but for those who like their fuzz delivered a little skewered and leaning slightly off the beaten path Sun Dweller could well become your new favourite band.
Check 'em out ... 

© 2023 Frazer Jones

Monday 28 August 2023

THE W LIKES ~ II .... review


Out of Norway with their second full length album come The W Likes, a trio from Hamar consisting of Willy (guitar/vocals); Balbosj (bass) and Kurti (drums). The album, conveniently entitled "II" (Ramah Records/Evil Noise Recordings)), continues in much the same vein as its self titled predecessor "The W Likes", in that it is a fuzzilicious blend of atmospheric stoner rock and raucous proto-metal fronted by vocals that are soulful in their lower register and Cornell-esque at the top end of their range. We think you are going to like this.

Things kick off nicely with opening track "I Called It Home" a song that lyrically tells a story of breaking ties and finding new beginnings against a background of groove that routinely shifts between restrained haziness and crunching heaviness and boasts a vocal that seamlessly moves from a croon to a rock god howl. There is something Nirvana-esque about next track "Forgotten" so much so that Desert Psychlist found ourselves trying hard NOT to sing the lyrics to "Something In The Way" over its moody musical backdrop, that aside this is a superbly constructed tome that boasts some truly impressive explosive moments. Things get a little more gnarly and in your face with "Demon Priest" a nicely put together proto-metallic opus that is heavily drenched in fuzz and distortion and is firmly anchored to the ground with thrumming low bass and solid tight drumming. A screaming seagull mimicking effect introduces final track "Doctrine" followed by a heavily distorted bass and guitar refrain tinted with an element of eastern promise, the clever use of shimmering cymbals and tribalistic drumming giving the proceedings an otherworldly vibe. Vocals do not make their presence felt until around the seventh minute, initially following a similar hazy exotic path but moving up to a more westernized rock roar as the songs verse progresses. At just under eighteen and a half minutes you might expect "Doctrine" to maybe meander just a little or lose its focus but it doesn't, in fact it stays on track for its duration and just seems to get more majestic as it goes along.

The W Likes' "II"  is an enthralling blend of grunge tinted languidity and crunching stoner heaviness, an immersive and warm album that can at any given moment spontaneously combust and proceed to melt your face off. 2023 has already given us some great albums and "II" is another one to add to the list 
Check it out ....

© 2023 Frazer Jones

Sunday 27 August 2023



So what do you expect to hear from a band whose membership is made up of musicians from a diverse range of influences that range from black metal all the way through to punk rock, well what you wont be expect is the sound Swedish groovsters Eyes Of The Oak bring to the table with their debut release "The Stone Vortex". Eyes Of The Oak hail from Södermanland County, Sweden, and their groove consists of an enthralling hybrid blend of psych-doom, stoner rock, prog, post metal and drone that doesn't quite lend itself wholly to either genre yet will appeal to fans of each.

Eyes Of The Oak open their account with title track "The Stone Vortex" a mid-tempo doom tinted tome that grabs you with its droning and heavily phased guitar intro and refuses to let go until you have witnessed its very last dying note, filling your ears with bluesy guitar solo's, crunching power chords and melodic vocal harmonies along the way. "Dead and Alive" follows and boasts a groove and vocal melody that fellow Swedes Ghost would be proud to have in their repertoire only delivered with a touch more grittiness and bite than the current version of Ghost could ever hope to muster. Next track "Evil Old Trees" is for Desert Psychlist the highlight of the album, a low slow and doomy opus replete with soaring bluesy guitar solos, growling bass and ponderous pummelling percussion decorated with a gravelled and menacing semi spoken/whispered vocal, for those who like their grooves torch-like and atmospheric this is manna from heaven. Heavily phased guitars riffs and punchy proto-doomic rhythms inform next track "First Sign of Life", aligned with a vocal that has an epic doom almost Viking metal feel to it while "Hex of the Season" weaves prog, post metal and even a little doomic shoegaze into its sonic tapestry. Final number "The Mirror Maze" finds Eyes Of The Oak shoe-horning everything from goth metal to proggish occult rock into a song that soars and plummets between tasteful and discordant without overly committing to either.

Eyes Of The Oak's "The Stone Vortex" is one of those albums that seemingly comes out of nowhere and then precedes to just blow you away from minute one, an album that ticks all the right boxes plus those boxes you didn't realise even needed ticking. Sweden has given us some great bands over the years and Eyes OF The Oak are another to add to that list.
Check 'em out .... 

© 2023 Frazer Jones

Friday 25 August 2023


If ever a liner note could get our collective juices flowing juices more than the one gracing Norwegian outfit Masheena's Bandcamp page, for their album "West Coast Hard Rock", then we are yet to read it. The note states that "Masheena is based on a simple yet challenging mission: to honour the rich heritage of hard rock music by creating great songs that people can connect with", the key word in that statement is "hard rock", Masheena make no mention of stoner, doom, sludge or any of the other genres and sub-genres that have emerged over the the last 40 odd years, their statement categorically mentions "hard rock" and although there are traces of some of those other rock styles to be found among its eight songs it is "hard rock" that is this albums main driving force.

There is an element of Randy California's Spirit about opening track "1979", not so much in its riffs, which are harder and crunchier than anything Spirit committed to tape, but in its vocals which are a mix of clean lead and melodic backing harmonies, the resulting combination, blended with an unmistakable 70's classic/hard rock groove, giving the song a level of rock'n'roll catchiness rare in these days of growlers and screamers. "Under The Same Sun" follows and sees Masheena blending their 70's inspired heavy rock with a touch of heavy psych and just the merest hint of doom yet decorating those elements with a vocal that yet again carries a essence of Spirit's Randy California in its melodic execution. Up next is "Looks Like A Man" a story based opus that musically shifts between languid and sleazy and manages to hook you with both dynamics. Following number "Brings Me Down" is a song built around heavily fuzzed out guitar refrains and tight solid rhythms that as well as boasting yet another great vocal melody also features some scorching lead guitar work. Fans of 70's hard rockers Montrose will love next song "Five Seconds of Fame" while those who recall that every 70's album worth its weight in riffs had to also include a ballad will appreciate the inclusion of "Sun Remains". Elements of punk and new wave mixed with some good old hard rock and stoner fuzz is what makes up next song "Remember the Rain", vocals here are a little grittier than those that have graced this albums previous tracks and there is a touch more gnarliness to be found in its guitar tones, melody though is a major factor in Masheena's sound and this songs ear-catching chorus boasts a great one. Final song "Where Are You Now" finds Masheena moving away from catchy psych tinted melodic rock and swaggering 70's hard rock that has informed most of the album and getting down and dirty with some prog tinted proto-doom, exotic guitar motifs, thick dank reverberating riffage, growling bass and thunderous drumming serving as a platform from which the albums best vocal is launched, a fitting and spectacular, if rather brief, finish to what is a seriously impressive album.

"West Coast Hard Rock" is less an album name and more a description of the music contained within its grooves. Luis-Alberto Salomon (guitars and vocals); Ole Andre Farstad (guitars); Tarjei A Heggernes (bass) and Gerhard Herfindal (drums) may have spent their respective careers playing in bands that covered everything from black metal to world music but their understanding of what makes hard rock ROCK is off the scale!
Check 'em out .... 

© 2023 Frazer Jones

Tuesday 15 August 2023


Instrumental rock based music is somewhat of an acquired taste but one that once acquired pays huge dividends, especially in this thing we call the "underground" where a band without vocals is something to be embraced rather than shunned. One band that have almost become legendary for their instrumental jams, although they have toyed with vocals in the past, are Puerto Rico's Iglesia Atomica a band who have been doing their "thang" since as far back as 1990 and have built up an extensive back catalogue of releases too numerous to go into here .Over the years the bands line up has taken a few twists and turns but one constant has been Agustín Criollo, the guitarist/bassist/keyboardist has been the bands driving force since day one and has become somewhat of a respected elder statesmen within the Latin underground scene. The band's current line up of Criollo (guitars/keyboards/samples); Joel Doal Garcis (bass) and Danny Maymi (drums/percussion) have just released their latest album "Los demenios andan suelos" on Bandcamp and like all their releases its one you'll want to own.

Title track "Los demonios andan sueltos" comes out of the traps like one of those extended jams that 70's bands would regularly take off on while their singer was getting jiggy with a groupie side stage, hard rock style riffage and searing lead work backed by basement level low growling bass and incredibly busy drumming. It's not all swirling guitars and hard rock grooves with Iglesia Atomica though, this band have not built the reputation on just riffs, solos and punchy rhythms as you will discover when this song suddenly dips its toes into drone-like lysergic waters and then comes out the other side on a psych-doom groove that would put Ufomammut to shame. For next track "Aquelarre" "(featuring guest guitarist Diego Cartulin on the songs solo) Iglesia Atomica get a little bluesy but not in any conventional way, this is blues mixed with a little rice'n'beans flavoured dub and ambient heavy psych that, in places, even wanders into Ozric Tentacles(ish) trippy spacious prog territories. "Supercabrón" sees Iglesia Atomica diving deeper into the blues but also deeper into the more experimental and cosmic side of their sound, Criollo taking full advantage of both his guitar pedals and keyboards to bring a multitude of colours and textures into play on a song that routinely shifts between ambient experimentation and dissonant heaviness, his efforts perfectly supported by Garcis' booming bass and  Maymi's solid tight drumming. "Requiem para un planeta" is listed as a bonus track on the bands Bandcamp page, whether this will eventually make an appearance on any proposed vinyl version of this album Desert Psychlist does not know but it is one worth having either way, a stunning opus that is a mixture of experimental heavy drone, Hawkwind-esque space rock and torch-like blues backed by a unusually restrained but highly effective rhythm section. 

Spaced out cosmic blues, psychedelic proto-metal, acid laced dub and a whole lot more can be found inhabiting the grooves of  "Los demonios andan sueltos", it maybe music bereft of a vocalist but that doesn't stop it singing.
Check it out .... 

© 2023 Frazer Jones

Friday 11 August 2023


Brazil's Slowner, blew a few mind with their self-titled debut "Slowner" back in 2019, an enthralling collection of songs that took inspiration from stoner doom, proto-metal and desert rock, but then due to a combination of a pandemic and life in general the band went missing for three years. The band returned this year with a slightly altered line-up, Gabriel Maia (drums); Gabriel Sena (vocals/guitars); Isaac Freire (guitars) and Renata Ramos (bass), and a new album "Leading To Nowhere", an album that the band tell us has seen them "open ourselves up to new influences and experiment with new sound possibilities".

When reviewing the bands debut "Slowner" Desert Psychlist made mention of the bands proto-doomic and desert rock leanings, those elements still have a huge role to play on "Leading To Nowhere" but this time they are tempered by a mixture of alt-rock dynamics and old school heavy /hard rock guitar swagger. Now whether the band were moving in this direction prior to their hiatus or whether this change in direction was triggered by new boy Sena's arrival Desert Psychlist does not know but play "Slowner" and "Leading To Nowhere" back to back and it would not be too far a stretch to think you were listening to two different bands. Opening song "90 Days" is probably best described as a bridge between Slowner's old sound and where they are going with their new sound, the murky stoner-doom riffs that was such a big part of the original line-ups sound are not so much jettisoned here as altered to accommodate Sena's more grunge-like vocal tones, which it has to be said elevate everything they touch to another level entirely. "Control" follows and channels both Alice In Chains and Soundgarden in its attack, albeit at the heavier end of both bands sonic spectrum while "Dire Cycles" employs a touch of Nirvana-esque loud/quiet/loud dynamics, the quiet parts highlighting bassist Ramos and drummer Maia's almost  telepathic ability to lock in together on a groove, the loud parts giving Sena and Freire freedom to crunch out riffs and solo to their hearts content, Sena accompanying his guitar work with yet another superbly delivered vocal. "Frontline" follows, a song lyrically referencing the aftermath of an unspecified catastrophe, lines like "they all pile up, I can't really tell who these bodies were (whose kids these are)" and "scooping off the mud, I can't really tell where flesh ends and dirt starts" sung  against a backdrop of dank thrumming guitar refrains and pounding percussion, a sound totally in keeping with the pain and sadness of its subject matter. Final number "Seer" sees Slowner signing off with a song that possesses touches of the stoner-doom that informed much of their debut only this time minus the murk and dankness, the band incorporating elements of post-metal and hints of prog into their attack to add extra texture and colour to the proceedings and turn what could have been a rather downbeat and dismal affair into something quite spectacular.

It is truly astonishing how a three year hiatus and the addition of a new member can so radically alter a bands sound and dynamic, but that is what has happened with Slowner, The band presenting us with their new album "Leading To Nowhere" are almost unrecognisable musically from the band that presented us with "Slowner", despite the fact that two thirds of the band were involved in the making of that first album. When reviewing their debut we wrote "there are moments on "Slowner" where things get a little generic and cliched but there are also glimpses of huge potential here too, potential that could make their next release a very interesting prospect indeed", and after listening to "Leading To Nowhere" we think you'll agree that we got that spot on!
Check it out ... 

© Frazer Jones 2023

Wednesday 9 August 2023


If your band is made up of just a drummer and a guitarist and you ply your trade within the canon of heavy music then it highly likely that the music you create is going to be riff based, this is very much the case with Australian duo Lucifungus and they are not about to apologise for it either. Do not, however, go expecting deep po-faced songs about the occult, politics or war because that is just not the way Lucifungus roll, their grooves might be heavy, their riffs may be dank and their rhythms thunderous but their music also possess an element of glorious tongue in cheek humour, something that will become glaringly apparent when listening to the bands fourth album "Lucifungus 4".

 "Hey friend! Whatcha goin do that for man? You've had, your filthy way, with over half of them" is the recurring lyric gracing opening song "Slugs Are The Enemy", no explanation of these words is offered nor is there any needed as this is all about the groove, guitarist/vocalist DD and drummer/vocalist Be Rad framing those lyrics in a groove built around powerfully thrashed drum skins and heavily hit guitar strings mired in heavy rock and metal dynamics. Just a hint of heavy bluesiness informs next song "The Unspoken" but it is only a hint as once again the dynamic is chiefly metallic with DD and Be Rad harmonising in low grainy vocal tones about lines that are broken and "fallen angels" against a backdrop of equally grainy stonerized metal. There is an air of Sabbathian proto-doom to found on following song "Ignite Your Soul", DD breaking out his wah pedal to add a little "wacka-wacka" colouring to the proceeding while Be Rad pummels his drums into submission beneath. "She Sells" sees Lucifungus mixing it up a little bit by shifting between time signatures but never going overboard while "Ride To The Sea" finds the duo pulling on their black robes for a riff heavy workout that routinely shifts between proto and traditional doom. Final song "Saga" boasts the immortal line "I don't know what i'm going to do, but i know what i'm going to do to you" over a groove that spits and snarls with menace but somehow still manages to retain a level of twinkle in the eye joyousness and fun not often found in music of this nature.

If you are coming to this album expecting intricate guitar noodling and jazzy drumming attached to heavy and deep conceptual themes then "Lucifungus 4" is probably not the album you are looking for, if however you are looking for guitar riffs that crunch and thrum and rhythms that pound and pummel decorated in lyrical content that won't give you a headache trying to decipher then this bundle of dark fun should be your very next purchase.
Check it out ... 

© 2023 Frazer Jones

Tuesday 8 August 2023



"Cassiopeia" is the sixth album from Californian outfit Turn Me On Dead Man, an album that follows on almost six years after the release of their last outing "Heavymetal Mothership". The band, Mykill Zlggy (guitars/vocals); Nick Doom (guitars); Christopher Melville Lyman (drums/percussion, vocals); Jonsey Daysleeper (keyboards/synthesizers) and Jeff Vengeance (bass), have up until the release of this, their new album, been known for packing their albums with songs ranging in lengths of between two to six minute durations, most falling into the shorter category . For "Cassiopeia" however Turn Me On Dead Man have decided to expand their songcraft over slightly longer durations, even stretching to a whopping (for them) nine and a half minutes at one point, the acid tinted psych, heavy metal and prog that informed their previous releases still very much in evidence but this time eked out over longer time frames, its a move that suits their music perfectly

"Apocolypse Wow" is first up and is a song that boasts a shifting musical attack that despite its heavy crunching guitar refrains and punchy rhythms possesses a groove and vocal melody that might have easily seen the song featuring on one of the more adventurous mainstream rock radio stations if it were not for it regularly veering off-piste into proggier territories . "My Vast Empire" follows and finds TMODM toying with soaring exotic scales and shoegaze-like dynamics around a vocal that possesses a touch of  breathy garage rock sneeriness, while "Eva" sees TMODM mixing shoegaze textures with a touch of sleazy glam rock and balancing those dynamics between rocking and restrained, an unusual combination but one that works well. For their next track, "Moonling", TMODM go cosmic with a stunningly infectious song that sees the band playing to all their strengths, swirling synths and keyboard textures married to off kilter dual guitar motifs pushed and steered by a bass and drum rhythm section who know their way around a fusion style groove, vocals don't really make an appearance until the song reaches its half way mark but when they do they are delivered gloriously hazy and free-spirited. Next track "Starlust" finds TMODM in prog-metal mode, keeping things heavy but adding an element of complexity and intricacy to their attack that is at times jaw-dropping, Doom and Zlggy's guitars dualling, trading off and riffing in unison while Daysleeper's keyboards add a spacious element to the proceedings, Vengeance's low bouncy bass lines and Melville Lyman's school of jazz style drumming the glue holding everything together. For title/final track "Cassiopeia" TMODM throw everything into the pot, convoluted prog, heady psych, discordant jazz fusion and torch-like post metal, to create nine minutes thirty seven seconds of pure musical excellence that you know has to eventually come to an end but leaves you secretly hoping never will, 

Turn Me On Dead Man have spent their six years between albums wisely, they have honed their skills as both musicians and songwriters and come up with an album that ticks all the boxes we lovers of the underground rock scene love to see ticked, great songs, strong musicianship and grooves you can really get your teeth into. Do not be surprised to see this album ranking high in those end of year lists, it really is that good!
Check it out ..... 
© 2023 Frazer Jones

Saturday 5 August 2023


If you are disciple of fuzzed out guitar tones and you like those tones leaning towards the rawer end of the fuzz spectrum and you also like the vocals accompanying those tones to possess a mixture of power and melody then we at Desert Psychlist think we may have the perfect band to meet all your needs. Now the description we have outlined in the previous sentence could probably lead you to the conclusion that we are introducing you to another of those Italian acid doom bands we tend to harp on about on a regular basis on these pages, however you would be wrong. The band we are reviewing today hails from Pretoria, South Africa and go by the name of Acid Magus. Some of you maybe already familiar with the band via their debut release "Wyrd Syster", a kick ass collection of tunes boasting elements of hazy heavy psych, cosmic spaciousness and good old four to the floor stoner/hard rock, if that is the case then you will already know how good this band are. If, however, the bands new album, "Hope Is Heavy", is your very first taste of what Acid Magus bring to the table, well then buckle up and get ready for the ride of your life.

"Hope Is Heavy" opens with "Demon Behemoth", eight minutes nine seconds of fuzzed out riffage and thunderous percussion underscored with Hawkwind-esque swoops and swirls and decorated in hazy melodic vocals, you really could not ask for a better opening number or one that so perfectly captures what Acid Magus are all about. The band follow this up with "Progeneration" a song that in its initial stages follows a similar path to its predecessor but then routinely dials down the fuzz to allow the band to explore more lysergic waters, listen closely to the bass tones on this one, they are monstrous! "Caligulater" rears its head next, its punishing heavily percussive groove is enhanced by ear catching guitar motifs and a slightly more aggressive, but no less melodic vocal. Things take a turn for the cosmic with "A Planet, A Deathstar" with clean semi-acoustic guitar arpeggios flitting  majestically over militaristic drum patterns and spoken narrative, as the song progresses so does its intensity morphing into torch-like heavy psych on its journey, the spoken narrative replaced by a powerful and melodic vocal. Fellow South African Johni Holiday (Ruff Majik) pitches in with the vocals for "Dead Weight" his unmistakable tones adding an element of garage rock sneer to a song that is probably the closest  Acid Magus get to straight ahead stoner rock on the whole album, that is if you ignore its post-metal flavoured middle section. Final track "Trillion Tonne Sun" sees Acid Magus pitching heady psych against heavy sludge and come up winning on both levels, heaviness and haziness in perfect balance.

 Acid Magus' "Wytch Syster" was an amazingly good debut but the trouble with having an amazingly good debut is that you are expected to follow it up with something equally amazing. Many bands over the years have fallen at this hurdle but not Acid Magus, if anything "Hope Is Heavy" is even better than its predecessor, in fact its amazing! 
Check it out ...

© 2023 Frazer Jones

Thursday 3 August 2023


Sweden's Dun Ringill, Tomas “GG” Eriksson (vocals); Patrik Andersson Winberg (bass); Neil Grant (drums); Tommy Stegemann (guitar); Jens Florén (guitar) and Patric “Peppe” Grammann (guitar), are a band with a wealth of experience behind them having among their number members who have graced the line-ups of bands such as The Order of Israfel, Doomdogs, Silverhorse and Neon Leon. The band opened their account in 2019 with the release of "Welcome" a well received debut that saw Dun Ringill treading similar blackened doomic waters to that of their fellow Scandinavian brothers Ordos only fleshed out with elements of old school heavy metal and lilting Nordic folk and featuring instrumentation that included flute, mellotron and Hammond organ. The band followed up "Welcome" a year later with "Library of Death", again it was an album steeped in doom and yet again that doom came with a side order of elements gleaned from the full spectrum of folk, metal and heavy rock, this time the albums instrumentation augmented with hurdy gurdy, violin and church organ. "Library of Death" was Dun Ringill's last with founding member Hans Lilja and his place behind the drum kit has since been taken by Neil Grant who, among other things, has composed anthems for Scottish football teams. Grant brings to Dun Ringill's table not only a more progressive percussive attack but also an added vocal dynamic, the drummer/vocalist providing a clean foil to Eriksson's throaty roars and growls. The addition of Grant to the bands line up has ignited a new fire in the band and in turn has inspired them to take on their most ambitious project to date, a double album laid out in two acts (released separately) the first of which, "Where The Old Gods Play-Act 1" (The Sign Records) we will be reviewing today.

Both "Welcome" and "Library of Death" opened with strong impactful tracks that set the tone for the rest of their respective albums and opening song "Awakening" does exactly the same thing for this, the bands third album. "Awakening" begins with the sound of  bagpipes played over a backdrop of crashing waves then explodes into a groove that is a mixture of doom, heavy metal and classic rock over which the bands three guitarists fire off crunching chord progressions and searing solos like there is no tomorrow. Eriksson's distinctive throaty vocals tell of becoming "one with this mire" and are offset in the chorus by Grant's clean, almost symphonic tones, the combined effect giving the song an epic doom feel. The epic feel of the opening song is even more pronounced on following song "The Parish", slower, danker and murkier than its predecessor, and featuring nicely pitched spoken segments from Grant, the song treads a musical path that sits somewhere between Candlemass and Pagan Altar while still retaining its own unique identity.. We probably should of explained earlier that "Where The Old Gods Play-Act 1" is the first instalment of a two part concept  based around the story of an 18th century priest with an (as yet) undisclosed agenda, so its not surprising that lyrically some songs lean towards anti-religious, and you can't get anymore anti-religious than accusing the head of the Catholic Church of being the devil as Dun Ringill do on the excellent "The Devil Wears a Papal Tiara" a song that seamlessly meshes doomic heaviness with elements of Celtic metal flair. Following number "Baptised In Fire" begins with the sound of  a reed pipe being played over the sound of trickling water then erupts into a metallic reel over which Eriksson preaches in grizzled tones of a "new world order" promising that it will be "magnificent" while "Nathaniels Hymn" sees bassist Winberg and drummer Grant laying down a series  of thrumming grooves for guitarists StegemannFlorén and Grammann to embellish with Celtic flavoured harmonies, scorching bluesy lead and crunching power chords while Eriksson implores, in tones grave and gritty, to be heard, seen, felt and fed. Up next is "Blood of the Lord", a song with a strong cinematic feel, its vocal mix of gritty lead and Gregorian flavoured cadences and its inclusion of a solemn prayer, incanted to a backdrop of gentle arpeggios, adding considerable weight to that feel. For the closing number we get "The Last Supper" a song themed around a discovery of betrayal set against a backdrop of gnarly stonerized metal, the song serving as somewhat of a cliff-hanger in the albums overall story and thus setting things up nicely for the eventual arrival of "Where The Gods Play-Act 2".

Based on a movie script written by bassist and main songwriter Winberg, Dun Ringill's "Where The Old Gods Play-Act 1" is a story that tackles issues of mistrust, betrayal and manipulation against a backdrop of  religious fervour, a story played out to a soundtrack of heavy music that is rooted in doom but not defined by the genre. Lyrically intelligent and musically progressive Dun Ringell have with "Act 1" gone musically above and beyond anything they have attempted previously, a stunning tome that promises much for "Act 2"
Check it out...

© 2023 Frazer Jones